On Friday and Saturday, the Kenyon track and field teams competed in the NCAC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Greencastle, Indiana. Though the women’s team finished in seventh place and the men finished eighth, the Owls had multiple individual standouts.
Paula Sorić ’25 shone for Kenyon in the field events. On the first day of competition, Sorić finished first in the long jump with a jump of 5.16 meters, becoming the first Kenyon woman to win the event since 2006. She improved on her 2022 fifth-place finish by 0.04 meters. Sorić continued her success on day two, earning her second conference title with a first place finish in the triple jump. After finishing as the runner-up in her rookie season, Sorić’s jump of 11.43 meters earned her the NCAC crown. Sorić’s success came despite a nagging injury, and she credited the team’s support system for her titles. “My coach noticed [that I was nervous about my injury] and gave me a great pep talk reminding me of what I came to do,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I don’t think I would have made it without the support from my teammates, the coaching staff, and the athletic trainers.”
In recognition of her performance throughout the indoor season, Sorić earned NCAC Women’s Field Athlete of the Year honors at the conclusion of the meet. She was only the second Kenyon athlete to win the award, after Krissann Mueller ’85 earned it in 1985. For Sorić, the award was meaningful for its connections to her career and Kenyon’s history. “I am extremely grateful; the competition for the award was really strong, but I also knew I performed well enough to earn it,” she said. “I didn’t know I was the second woman from Kenyon to receive the award, and when I read about it I just felt even more proud to become a part of the program’s history.”
In addition to Sorić’s titles, the women’s team found individual success in a variety of events. On Friday, Anna Brown ’26, Logan Vidal ’25, Lorien Kauffman ’24 and Ella Wilson ’23 came in third place in the distance medley relay with a time of 13:01.88. Saturday brought more point-earning performances, as Erika Conant ’23 finished fourth in the long jump with a distance of 10.44 meters. Brown saw continued success on the second day, starting with placing second in the 800-meter run. Her time of 2:22.11 was a personal best and just 2.18 seconds shy of the top time. Brown, Denna Medrano ’23, Maya Virdell ’24 and Vidal ran a 4:15 in the 4×400-meter relay to finish fourth. At the end of two days, Kenyon finished with 22 points. Wittenberg University paced the field with 190 points.
The men’s team found the most success on the second day of competition. As has been the case for much of the season, the sprinters led the way for the Owls. In the 4×200-meter relay, Emmanuel Makelele ’25, Tapiwa Gono Phiri ’25, Julius Thompson ’26 and Collin Witt ’24 broke the Kenyon record with a time of 1:32.52, besting the 2013 record by 0.14 seconds. That finish earned the quartet third place. In the 4×400-meter relay, the same four runners notched another third-place finish and broke another Kenyon record. After setting the program record earlier in the month, the relay team cleared that finish by nearly three seconds to finish the race in 3:28.97. Rounding out the sprinters’ success, Gono Phiri matched his Kenyon-record time of 7.02 seconds in the 60-meter dash and took home third place. Kenyon’s best finish in the distance events came in the 3,000-meter run. Peter Bernhardt ’25 finished the race in a personal-best time of 8:41.60, earning second place and nearly breaking a Kenyon record in the process (8:38.46). Kenyon finished the meet with 29 points, while Wabash College earned the conference championship with 157.
With the NCAA Championship on the horizon, Kenyon hopefuls will travel to Ada, Ohio, to compete in the Polar Bear Final Qualifier on March 4. Sorić hopes to enter into the top 20 jumpers and qualify for the championship meet, which will be held on March 10 and 11 in Birmingham, Alabama. “Qualifying for nationals was one of the goals I set for the indoor season,” she said. “It would mean the world to me to qualify, but my goal for the Polar Bear meet is to enter clear-headed, enjoy the meet and do my best.”